IMPD identifies suspect killed in Indianapolis east side shootout
The suspect has been identified as 27-year-old Donte Sowell of Indianapolis. Sowell was a convicted felon who had a previous arrest in Marion County for dealing in a narcotic drug, possession of cocaine, controlled substance and hash oil, criminal confinement, carjacking, auto theft, carrying a handgun without a license and armed robbery.
At the time of his death, Sowell had an open warrant for possession of marijuana issued in 2013. IMPD says he was in possession of marijuana at the time of Thursday's incident.
The involved officer is Patrolman Javed Richards who has been employed with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for three years. His department photo is not available at this time and Patrolman Richards has respectfully declined any request to be interviewed.The officer has been identified as Javed Richards, a three-year veteran of IMPD who works for the East District. He has been released from the hospital after being shot in the foot.
The shooting happened around 7 p.m. Thursday at the Amber Woods Apartments near E. 38th Street and Mitthoefer Road. Officers called the gun battle "intense" and it even affected innocent bystanders.
IMPD Chief Rick Hite credits the officer with acting bravely while under fire from a semi-automatic handgun. Bullet holes in the officer's patrol car show the severity of the situation.
"By the grace of God. That's absolutely right. Because if you look at it, the officer almost didn't walk away from it. If you look at the number of rounds were fired into the car, he could've easily been killed," the chief said.
Bystanders caught in crossfire
"I've never even held a real gun before," said Jennifer McKown as she stood, shaking in the cold along Mitthoefer Road.
Perhaps it wasn't the cold that left the wife and mother shaking, but the adrenaline still running through her after finding out what it was like to be under fire.
McKown and her husband, along with other cars and an IndyGo bus full of passengers were caught in the crossfire during the gun battle.
"My husband was like, 'You gotta get down! You gotta get down!' and I was like, 'Oh my God! They're shooting towards us','' McKown said she yelled to him as she heard the bullets flying by while she tried to duck down behind the steering wheel of her car.
Police tell Eyewitness News the incident started with a traffic stop at the Marathon gas station at 38th & Mitthoeffer. An officer pulled over a car for running a red light. Investigators say a passenger got out of the stopped car and started running south on Mitthoefer.
The officer radioed the suspect's description and another officer in the area saw someone matching that man's description running into the entrance of Amber Woods Apartments.
"At that point, the suspect turned and started firing at the officer," explained IMPD Officer Rafael Diaz.
It was at that point, McKown says, she and other cars, including the IndyGo bus, pulled over because a police car had pulled up with flashing lights.
"The officer pulled up right next to the bus and stopped, turned on their spotlight, which of course, blinded us," McKown said.
The next thing she knew, she and her husband were caught in the middle of flying bullets.
"I still feel the adrenaline rushing," McKown said.
Police said several police vehicles, the IndyGo bus and other cars were riddled with bullet holes. A security guard working in the area also exchanged gunfire with the suspect and is part of IMPD's ongoing investigation.
Police say an officer was shot in the foot, but is in good condition at IU Health Methodist Hospital.
"It was unprovoked. It looks like the officer was trying to get him to comply with verbal commands, stand where you are, the suspect opened fire for no reason. He was on a mission tonight. He could have shot a citizen. The officer intervened," said IMPD Chief Rick Hite outside Methodist Thursday night.
Minutes after the shooting, officers rushed to Methodist, waiting on word of their fallen brother, shot in the line of duty.
As they left the hospital a short time later, officers told Eyewitness News the officer was doing fine - a relief to those on the force. Richards was wearing steel toe boots during the shootout.
"He's going to be okay, but it is the point that we have to recognize that we have to be in these areas. We talk about it obsessively, but this is why," Hite said. "We thank the brave officer for his courage and steadfastness, but again, he saved a life out there because somebody else could've been killed if they didn't counter the suspect."
Jennifer McKown said she's too shaken up to see if her car was hit. All she knows is that she won't sleep as well tonight after what happened. She lives on the east side and said the gunfire she's gotten used to hearing these days came a little too close for comfort Thursday night.
"It didn't used to be like this," she said.
"It's been a rough night for IMPD, but this is what we do. This is what you pay us to do," said Hite.
Several dangerous stops Thursday
The shooting came during what was one of many dangerous traffic stops for metro officers Thursday.
Police arrested 22-year-old violent felon Brian Franklin during one stop and another arrested drug suspect 32-year-old Anthony Rivera for carrying a handgun without a license.